Category Archives: Knowing authors

In this category I will interview writers. How cool is that? we will know as much as they want to tell us. It is time do discover new authors.

Also, this is a way to know more about their lifes, their habits and their published books. This is a fantastic chance to discover new authors. As a result, they will tell us what and how they think. We will learn about their habits, tips and tricks.  I decided to create this category because there is a lot to learnd and a lot to share!

Maybe you will get inspired by their lifes, who knows?

If you are open minded and you want to discover new authors stay tuned to this category.

Grady P Brown interview

Knowing Grady P. Brown

Hello Wottareaders! Today I’m interviewing author Grady P. Brown, author of the Magnus Dynasty Saga among other projects, and he released a new book just a few months ago so let’s get to know him better shall we? let’s do this!

The man

Who is Grady P. Brown, not the writer, the man. What can you tell us about you?

I am a full-time pit bull owner who loves his dogs completely. I like making people happy and I like socializing. I have a loving and supportive family as well as many good friends. I am a hard worker and I love getting projects done.

Where are you from? Has your Country influenced your stories somehow?

I am from the United States. Due to the past four years, I have gained a considerable amount of inspiration from my country’s political and social turmoil.

Writers are such for different reasons, which was your thing that made you decide you wanted to become a professional writer?

I have had stories to tell for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I started writing them down in middle school that I decided to become an author. There was something that was completely liberating about writing stories, to put my imagination on paper. I not only write to leave behind a legacy and entertain my readers, but I also do it as a form of meditation that relaxes and expands my mind.

Any non-book related hobbies you want to share with us?

I watch a lot of anime, films, and documentaries on medieval history and prehistory.

One book, one movie, one song, one food, one sport and one videogame?

If I was to choose a book, I would say my favorite would be Eragon, the first book of the Inheritance Cycle. My favorite movie would be The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. My favorite food would have to be spaghetti with meat sauce from The Old Spaghetti Factory. I am not a sports fan, but if I were forced to choose a sport, I would say hockey because I love it when the players pound each other against the bulletproof glass. I do not play video games, but I do watch them on Youtube. Due to this, I would choose Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order.

Pineapple pizza. yes or no?

When it comes to pizza, my tastes are simple and complicated at the same time. In terms of flavor, I am a complete purist because I love plain cheese pizza. If I were given pineapple pizza, I would pick the pineapple off and then eat the pizza.

Aside from being an author, what is for you the perfect job?

Being a library aide because I get to help out when it comes to maintain and distributing an entire collection of books. Since I spend a lot of time writing books, I feel at peace when I am surrounded by books.

If you had to define yourself just using one sentence of your novels, which one would be?

Evil does not listen to reason.

The Young Guardians and the Genesis Spell.

This sentence defines me because I have an understanding of how evil thinks. I like dark stories and I like to incorporate my innate understanding of evil in my stories. It helps me when I am writing my villains.

The writer

I’d like to know about your first steps, the very first day you decided to become a professional writer, what made you do it?

At an early age, I always had stories to tell. At first, I wanted to be a paleontologist, to study and discover prehistoric life forms. However, once I started to realize the liberating sensation I received from writing stories, I decided to abandon my old ambition of being a paleontologist. I have been writing nonstop ever since.

Do you have any ritual for writing? any kind of habit or goals to achieve every day?

I am only able to write while in my man cave, which is my personal writing studio. The presence of my beloved pit bulls also makes the writing process easier. I try writing three to five pages a day. However, there was one case in which I wrote fifty pages in a single day.

Do you take real people you know and put them in your stories?

I take a lot of inspiration from historical figures and model several of my characters on them. Other characters are based on people I hate with complete passion and I am not subtle with my references. I also base characters on my loved ones. For example, I included my parents in my books twice already. In one of my current projects, I am basing one of the characters on my aunt.

What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Use historical events as a blueprint for a story then alter it however you want until you have the story you wish. I did that with my Magnus Dynasty Saga when I picked the English First Barons War and the War of the Roses. Historical documentaries are the ideal source of inspiration when searching for a historical event to base your story on. For instance, if a massive earthquake happened a century ago, you can use that event as a blueprint for a potential story. You could use the historical earthquake as the rise of an undiscovered city or a giant monster waking up. The possibilities and combinations are limitless.

Which would you say was your best and your worst moments as a writer?

My best moment would be when my first book got published because it was like the fulfillment of a dream. My worst moment would be when my writing group disbanded because I liked the people there and found their advice valuable.

Let’s talk about procrastination, what is the most absurd thing you’ve been doing when you should be writing?

I would say the most absurd thing I would do when I should be writing would be when I’m watching scare pranks on Youtube or watching the Jackass films on Amazon Prime.

The Books

Your series, Magnus Dynasty Saga, centers on Numen Magnus, the true heir to House Marvak. Some compare this series to Game of Thrones, but your book is actually quite different from George R.R Martin’s isn’t it?

Yes. Due to four years of research on medieval history, I developed a deep understanding on how medieval politics operated. Feuding noble families, cutthroat politics, and warring armies were actually quite common back in those days. Those real life events made Game of Thrones look like Sesame Street by comparison. It is those real life events I drew inspiration from. I have learned the reigns of many monarchs from the Norman Invasion of 1066 to the Tudor Dynasty of the 15th and 16th centuries. My Magnus Dynasty Saga contains many similarities and references to those time periods if you know where to look. Also, I have been a devout fan of both dragons and dragon riders since the day I was born. I always fantasized befriending a dragon and riding it and I incorporated it in my Magnus Dynasty Saga. Due to their size and strength, dragons always had the power to melt castles and incinerate armies, which are abilities that have been displayed by countless other fantasy stories such as The Hobbit and the Inheritance Cycle. In addition to medieval history, I drew inspiration from Arthurian legend and Beowulf for my Magnus Dynasty Saga. In the next volume in the Magnus Dynasty Saga, I am considering using the reign of King Louis XIV of France as inspiration.

 You are an autism ambassador, have you ever included a character with autism in any of your books? Or do you plan to?

I have not included a character with autism in my books. I don’t plan to include such a character. The reason is because despite living with autism all my life, I cannot figure out how to write a convincing autistic character in my books.

Recently, you released Cosmic Genten, the first novel in Benfold Star series, tell us more about it?

It takes place in the distant future in which humanity has colonized most of known space. There are no real aliens. Instead, there are humanoid mutants that have been labeled as aliens. The story revolves around an interstellar war between two intergalactic governments that seek to conquer each other. After much bloodshed, both sides try to claim a strategically important star system that could decide the outcome of the war. Now, a makeshift army of freedom fighters must fight off an incoming invasion from an enemy fleet.

What are you writing right now?

I am currently writing two books at the same time. I am taking a break from the Magnus Dynasty Saga. One book is a new superhero story that takes place in an alternate reality while the other revolves around an evolutionary experiment that attempts to recreate a prehistoric ecosystem. Thanks to my self-quarantine from the Coronavirus, I have all the time in the world to write these books.

This was a great interview! I want to thank Grady P. Brown for this amazing opportunity to know him and his work better.

Discover more on Wottaread.

Knowing Tonja Drecker

Knowing Tonja Drecker

Hi there Wottareaders! today we have author Tonja Drecker with us. Her book, Music Boxes, was an amazing read and I highly recommend it to you if you like Middle Grade with a bit of horror! let’s know more about her and her work shall we? let’s go!

Also, Tonja Drecker has a gift for one of you: a free Audiobook code for her book! want to win this? it’s easy: leave a comment asking her a question, the most original question will win this gift!

The woman

Who is Tonja Drecker, not the writer, the woman. What can you tell us about you?

Wow. This one is hard. I guess the best answer is that I’m a person who wishes I could experience so much more than I’ll ever be able to. I attended college for seven years, have lived in various countries, and worked various jobs from a church organist to sugar beet weigh station attendant to the Assistant of the Head of Expatriation to a coffee shop and so much more. I’m ready to try about anything, and you’ll find me sewing or gardening or changing the water-pump on my tractor or repairing my car or replumbing a bathroom or volunteering at the library or gymnastics studio or who knows what else. (Youtube makes learning anything possible!) I’m told I’m very friendly, open, and state what I really think (although never rudely). Despite all of this, I’m an introvert and happiest when I don’t see anyone outside of the family for literally days at a time. I’m always looking forward to what life holds next, believe that everything is as it should be…even when things gets harsh (faith), and will be a chocolate lover until my very last breath.

Oh, and if you ask my kids, I have the memory of a sieve.  

Where are you from? Has your Country influenced your stories somehow?

While I grew up in Denver, I spent over half my life in Europe. The variety of cultures, rich history, and even richer myths left a deep impression and does influence my writing. Being surrounded by people from various countries is part of daily life there. Everywhere, people spoke various languages, dressed in different ways, and held their own viewpoints (politics, religion, food or whatever). Life was simply colorful. Now when I tell a story, it doesn’t feel natural without at least some of this diversity.

Writers are such for different reasons, which was your thing that made you decide you wanted to become a professional writer?

I’ve written stories since I learned my ABCs, but I never considered becoming a writer. It wasn’t until years after I had my BA, had moved to Europe, and was married with children that the idea of making my hobby into a profession hit. We’d accompanied my husband for a longer business trip to Ireland. While the kids napped, I read whatever books were on the shelves of the house we’d rented thanks to boredom. That’s when I realized writers were real people, who simply wrote stories (well, simply isn’t quite the word, but that’s what I thought then).  All those years, I’d been writing and letting my stories secretly pile up in a drawer. Suddenly, I realized how ridiculous that was.

Any non-book related hobbies you want to share with us?

I have tons. I play the piano, am a certified choir director, run a small farm with cows and chickens and a pony, paint, repair all sorts of machinery, garden, sketch, am currently learning Chinese, hiking, kajaking…  I could go on and on. Let’s just say that I have a hard time simply sitting around.

One book, one movie, one song, one food, one sport and one videogame?

Book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Song: Seven Bridges Road — Eagles.

Food: Chocolate.

Sport: Hiking.

Videogame: Right now, Fishdom since it’s mindless and helps put me to sleep.

Pineapple pizza: yes or no?

Sure!

Aside from being an author, what is for you the perfect job?

Being a mother.

If you had to define yourself just using one sentence of your novels, which one would be?

Another tough one! Okay…this is going to be a stretch, and you’ll have to think quite a bit out of the box, but…

‘Back on the farm in Nebraska, every room had been painted in a different color of the rainbow.’

From her novel Music Boxes.

The writer

I’d like to know about your first steps, the very first day you decided to become a professional writer, what made you do it?

The sudden realization that I was one anyway and keeping a secret stash of stories has silly.

Do you have any ritual for writing? any kind of habit or goals to achieve every day?

Absolutely none. I’m happy where-ever, whenever, and however I can squeeze writing in. I’ve tried to force daily writing, but that doesn’t work for me. Not even close.

Do you take real people you know and put them in your stories?

I have taken habits, stories I’ve heard from real people or experiences, and let them influence certain characters, but nothing directly.

What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

First, write your story. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s perfect, or whether or not you’re going overboard, or whether or not anyone will like it, or whether or not you’ll ever get published. Just write because you’ll rewrite most of it again. And again. And again. The magic is in the rewrites and editing, but without that first story…the foundation to work on, the magic can never begin.

Which would you say was your best and your worst moments as a writer?

Best was when Barnes and Noble recommend my book on their kids blog—a little known book from a small publisher. I was over the moon. The worst was when I landed an agent and needed to start the first round of edits with her right in the middle of my overseas move. For three months, my only internet connection was through the local McDonald’s.

Let’s talk about procrastination, what is the most absurd thing you’ve been doing when you should be writing?

I think that list would be longer than my hobby one. I’m a very talented procrastinator. Too bad that isn’t a profession. I’d make a fortune.

The Books

Music boxes

Music boxes

See on Amazon

Your book, Music Boxes, narrates the story of Lindsey, a girl who dreams of being a ballerina and in whose class the other dancers attending the lessons start disappearing while her teacher’s music box collection only grows, how did you come up with such a great idea?

While pulling weeds. I was working with some very nasty thorn bushes, and suddenly the image of a very evil dance teacher settled in my mind. She was surrounded by shelves and shelves of music boxes.  Inspiration is a funny thing—it can strike anywhere and in every way.

You have been involved in three collections of short stories, one of them is Super HERo Tales, a collection of female super hero stories, the other, Full Dark, is an anthology of paranormal tales, and another in Real Girls Don’t Rust, a steampunk anthology. Plus, you have an historical fiction Ubook, A Glowworm, with the Black and White Publishing Company. Would you want to tell us more about them? Any other short collection project you are working on?

Short stories are my playground. Not only do I love writing them as a break from the longer manuscripts, but I use them to dive into other genres and expand my horizons.

Right now, I’m not working on any particular short stories, since I have two other larger projects, which I’m in the process of writing and another which I’m actively researching.

What are you writing right now?

The bigger project is a co-authored series. It’s a young adult fantasy told from three points of view and is a much more complex and larger project than I’ve worked on before. I  love working with a co-author. It’s wonderful to have someone as invested in the story as I am and to shoot ideas back and forth with… and that without worrying about boring the other person or getting on their nerves. The second, I had partially written before Music Boxes was signed on with Dancing Lemur Press and have finally found time to get back to. Well, somewhat. This one is a fairy tale retelling, but instead of being based on the more recent (only hundreds of years old) European version, it follows the original Egyptian myth. While there are several quirky, humorous characters, it also carries darker twists. In that way, it’s similar to Music Boxes.

I want to thank Tonja Drecker for this amazing interview, wish you all the best! and don’t forget to leave a comment asking her a question!

Discover more on Wottaread.

Living with vampires

Knowing Belinda Topan

Hello Wottareaders! today we are interviewing Belinda Topan! Her book, Living with Vampires, is an amazing fun story, a girl sharing a flat with 3 vampires! sounds cool uh? you can chek her book here:

But before you start reading her book (which if you like vampires you definitely should by the way), let’s get to know her better shall we? let’s go:

The woman

Who is Belinda Topan, not the writer, the woman. What can you tell us about you?

Hmm, what can I say about myself that isn’t incriminating . . . I’m kidding. I am a bit of a joker, I like to use humour as my choice of weapon when meeting new people or just in a general sense – writing or Q&As. The other side of me is I am an introvert, animal lover and a tad cynical with the world, who loves to sit down, play videos or write, depending on how I am feeling and enjoy a good cup of coffee. I am a coffee addict. I am someone who loves the city life, so much is going on, so many different people, events, the nightlife is diverse but mysterious at the same time. I find it mesmerising, I can picture my vampires lurking in the shadows waiting for their next meal.

Where are you from? Has your Country influenced your stories somehow?

I am from Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. I’ve always read vampire, fantasy, supernatural stories based in either America and Europe but never here, and if they are based here, it’s usually in the sense of real-life stories or a fictional story based on the author’s life experience migrating to Aus. There was never a supernatural story – or a fantasy-like story I have seen that includes Aus. In terms of influence, our slangis a big one – we use words much differently here, and it confuses a lot of outsiders and swearing, apparently. Plus I want to break stereotypes, we don’t ride kangaroos hahaha. Dropbears though . . . well, I’ll let the readers figure that out.

If your wondering about Melbourne, I have visited the city three times and in those times the things I have written don’t do the city justice. It’s so big and the coffee capital of Australia, a place where the arts are more appreciated then up in Brisbane. But I’m not lying when we say four seasons in one day, seriously that city has bi-polar weather. Plus it’s cold – I don’t do cold weather.

Writers are such for different reasons, which was your thing that made you decide you wanted to become a professional writer?

In truth – I like the idea that I can create stories and share them with people and make this a full-time thing would be amazing. Cause the idea of having to work for someone or sit behind a desk, taking orders from someone is a living nightmare for me. I don’t consider that living, having to work for the man, full time, 38hrs a week – no thanks. It scares me, as I think my freedom would be taken, so I guess that’s another reason, I call the shots, no one else does. The third reason is, I’ve always had such an active imagination when I was young, a hero going to slay the big evil vampire, adored by many for their heroics but as I grew older and more cynical (lol), I started to sympathise with the vampires more, preferred them more than my own human characters.

Any non-book related hobbies you want to share with us?

Apart from video games . . . I am a muso lover – though I do get impatient when learning an instrument, I love listening to it and supporting Aussie bands and going to gigs. I do love going to comic con conventions and food markets and going to high teas (does that count as a hobby?) I am a foodie, I like to cook dishes that I haven’t tried before or re-make cause it was so lovely. I also garden a bit on the side, growing blueberry bushes and strawberries with a few indoor plants. Travelling is on the cards but at a much later date.

One book, one movie, one song, one food, one sport and one videogame?

Tough choice as there is so many . . . (cries for days):

VideoGame: Dragon Age Inquisition (Replayed it 4 times)
Song: Little less sixteen candles, a little more touch me – Fall Out Boy (I am a simple lady, I see a vampire-themed music video, I love it, but I am also a FOB fan).
Sport: I don’t do sports, so I’m gonna do anime.
Anime: One piece (Zoro is my favourite character).
Movie: Pride & prejudice (2005)
Book: Dracula (has to be Dracula).
Food: this is mean – but If I have to choose – roast chicken dinner can’t go wrong with that. *Drools*.

Aside from being an author, what is for you the perfect job ?

You think about how you would become a full-time writer no matter what – it fills you with determination. (Undertale reference, sorry).

But if it is not meant to be, I would be running my own business of sorts, calling the shots as someone else telling me what to do a is a big no. Like a café – with cats – a cat café as I adore them and coffee.

You love vampires, would you let Count Dracula bite you?

Hahaha, love that! But it’s a no for me, even if the main vampire in my series asked for a bite, I would say no. I’ve always stated if vampires were real, I would become a vampire hunter, I don’t want to be the helpless victim or be the girls who beg to bed rescued. I would be buffy with the stake.

If you had to define yourself just using one sentence of your novels, which one would be?

Oof one sentence. . . To best define me, I did write my own quirks in a scene in Living with Vampires, and it’s perfect for me, as it is me.

‘Neil admired how carefree she was then, loving the present moment, dancing out whatever scene was in her head.’

– Neil about Valeria (Living with Vampires).

I do like to dance.

The writer

I’d like to know about your first steps, the very first day you decided to become a professional writer, what made you do it?

It was high school, and with the active imagination I had, I thought it would be good to start a story. I tried writing many little stories, but none that were good. Some were similar to twilight (apparently), but it deviated from the main plot I always carried around in my head. I was scared to show the real parts of my imagination, and It was only till year 10 I decided to run with it, but still deviated quite a bit and mainly wrote to deal with the hard times that was highschool.

As I have graduated and been out of school for some time, I no longer write with the anger I once held and now focus on the main plot I had held back for some time. As to what made me do it, not sure, all I know is I have a story in my head, and I want to share it with the world.

Do you have any ritual for writing? Any kind of habit or goals to achieve every day?

Some rituals include me with a pair of headphones, a dramatic song or soundtrack and I go from there if I want a really emotional scene. Badass scenes are fighting songs and warrior soundtracks. Others are when I am in a quiet space, and I begin to think over what I have recently written – I begin to have a conversation with that character, and the scene continues on.

I do try to write every day, but as for a set goal, I don’t have one. I see it as if I write, even for only a little bit, I still have contributed something to keep moving forward with the story, even If it takes just a little bit longer than most days.

Do you take real people you know and put them in your stories?

*sweats*
No . . . .
*Laughs nervously*
Yeah . . . I do, sometimes I look at an individual and wonder what would they be like if they were some scary mob boss or how would they react to a situation. I also make it a fun challenge to anyone who can pick up the references I leave, usually with names (I give them different names but the meaning matching with the person’s personality) or specific characteristics – like hair colour.

What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Hmm, I say don’t fret what other writers are writing about, focus on your story and what you want to convey. It’s always good to read for reference but never think it has to be good as that book or be considered a piece of art when you first start. Take it slow, learn different writing styles and develop your own, get to know your characters, who are they, and why should the reader care about them as much as you do. Cause the most fun I have is to develop the world, it’s lore and how things work and tie in together. Knowing that is a huge help when starting to put together a story, so you don’t mix your facts up when laying the bare bones of the world down.

Which would you say was your best and your worst moment as a writer?

Best: People reading my works and genuinely liking them and getting involved and loving the charactersI have created. Oh and laughing at the funny scenes I wrote, I like to think I am funny.

Worst: finding motivation, sometimes life can be a tad cruel and take me out and bring me back to reality. (rude if you ask me.)

Let’s talk about procrastination, what is the most absurd thing you’ve been doing when you should be writing?

I think this whole COVID thing, I literally haven’t written since the pandemic. It is the greatest time and best opportunity to write and be creative but the motivation, just washes away, and I’ve been distracting myself with animal crossing and reading. Not the most absurd but is the biggest time I have gone off from writing. I don’t think there have been moments when I don’t write unless I am ready to do so. But I can happily say I am getting back on the horse, feels like I have gone through the seven stages of grief.

book

The Books

Your book, Living with Vampires, narrates the story of Valeria, a girl who shares a flat with 3 vampires, how did you come up with such a story?

Don’t laugh . . . but it was the sims. I just got number 4 with the vampire DLC and created three male vampires and a female human. Kinda thought how funny it would be if this was a story – well it didn’t start out as a story, more like scenarios of what it would be like to live with vampires – would they try to eat her, would they kill in front of her, would they make her life a living hell?

Would she have some of her food missing as they thought it would be interesting to try, or teach them how to use technology, argue with what the times are like now compared to a hundred years ago. Things like that, I did it for fun, just something to giggle at when I wrote it, I only developed a story as I wrote Brooklyn’s backstory, thinking it’s time to get a little more serious while keeping the humour alive or try too at least.

One Of A Kind is the first volume of a series, when will the next instalment be released?

Ah yes, One Of A Kind, It was bad hahaha, like really bad. So it’s under a re-write, and you can still read the first (bad version) for free. I do have the second; Anything but ordinary posted online, but that isn’t even finished as the re-write may change the second book. But the multi-verse stays, as it is fun to explore other worlds in the second book. But I can say this is all underway and will make a comeback soon.

What are you writing right now? Do you plan to write something not related with vampires someday?

Other than the re-write of One Of A Kind – I have written some backstories to two of my beloved characters and another backstory to the big bad vampire King. But something not related to vampires . . . well, I don’t know . . . I can’t really think of anything that doesn’t include them. It’s not in my nature to deviate, but if I would, it would be a romance . . . who I am kidding, vampires will be in that too, hahaha.

I was nice to have Belinda topan and know her better, thank you!

Discover more on Wottaread.

Michael J Sulilvan interview

Knowing Michael J. Sullivan – Interview

Hello Wottareaders! today we are interviewing  Michael J. Sullivan, New York Times, USA Today, and Washington Post bestselling author. He is best known for his  best known for his debut series The Riyria Revelations, which already have both a sequel and a prequel but he also has published a stand-alone SciFi novel, Hollow World. Let’s know more about him and his books shall we? let’s go!

The man

Who is Michael J. Sullivan, not the writer, the man. What can you tell us about you?

I’m a pretty introverted person, so you won’t see me dancing on any stage. I prefer quiet times reading by a fire or typing away at my keyboard. I’m married to an absolute genius who made my career possible and improves my books through her tireless efforts as an alpha reader and managing the beta readers and copy editors. I’m probably the most unlikely of people to “make it” in this whole writing gig, considering I’m not classically educated or trained in any way for that matter.

Where are you from? Has your Country influenced your stories somehow?

I was born in Detroit, Michigan, in the United States. I think many creative pursuits start at a very young age. For me, I found boredom to be the mother of creativity. When I grew up, there  wasn’t cable television, video games, or the Internet, so I used writing as a way to entertain myself.

 Writers are such for different reasons, which was your thing that made you decide you wanted to become a professional writer?

It’s funny because I never “decided” anything. You see, I had two runs at “professional writing.” The first lasted for over a decade and was an utter failure, even though I was trying as hard as I could. I wrote thirteen books, received hundreds of rejections from agents, and figured I didn’t have “the right stuff,” and I quit. So that attempt resulted in me NOT wanting to write for a living because I was such a failure.  At that time, I vowed never to write creatively again. Fast forward by more than a decade, and I couldn’t stay away from writing any longer. I sat back down at the keyboard for two reasons. First, to provide a novel that my dyslexic daughter might enjoy. And second to purge a story from my brain that had been building for more than a decade. This time around, I was 100% against publication. My wife read three of my books and decided they needed to be “out there,” so she submitted them to agents and took over the “business side” of my career.

 Any non-book related hobbies you want to share with us?

I live what my wife calls a very “balanced life.” Writing in the morning, some physical stuff in the afternoon, followed by a bit of artistic expression (painting), especially during the winter, and reading in the evenings. So every day is broken up with at least two and sometimes three hobbies. In the last year, I’ve taken up birding, which is something I enjoy very much.

 One book, one movie, one song, one food, one sport and one videogame?

  • The Stand by Stephen King.
  • Star Wars Episode IV.
  • Seared Tuna.
  • Baseball.
  • Everquest 1999.

 If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

There is no other job as perfect as writing. If I couldn’t do that, I wouldn’t work at all. But I’m an older guy and financially stable, so that makes life as a bum possible.

 If you had to define yourself just using one sentence of your novels, which one would be?

“I’ll let you buy me a drink, and we can regale each other with stories of our adventures in foreign lands.”

  The writer

I’d like to know about your first steps, the very first day you decided to become a professional writer, what made you do it?

Well, as I said, I never decided to become a professional writer. Or to be more precise, I “wanted” to be one, but after years of failure, I realized it wouldn’t be possible. But if we go back to the first day I wanted to “write,” I can talk about that.  It was when I was 9 or 10 years old. I was playing hide-and-seek at a neighbor’s house, and I found a huge old black typewriter in a hidden corner of the basement. I inserted a piece of paper and typed, “It was a dark and stormy night” (which is what Snoopy always wrote). Later I learned that line was “the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing.” (which is the opposite of my style).  From that day on, all I wanted to do was type up the stories running around in my head.

Do you have any rituals for writing? any kind of habit or goal to achieve every day?

Yes. I write every day, and I do so in the morning. I get up, drink some coffee, and read the paper. Once I’m yelling at the articles, I know I’m awake enough to write. I start each writing session by reading a few pages of whatever novel I’m currently reading, and then I begin to write. I continue until lunch, and if the writing is going well, that may be much later than it is for most people. I don’t do any further “writing” during the day, although I’ll often edit.

 Do you take real people you know and put them in your stories?

No, not really. Although individual aspects of my wife, Robin, can be seen in several women, including Arista, Thrace/Modina, Gwen, and Persephone.

 What are you writing right now?

Yes, of course, how else can I answer these questions? Seriously though, I’m always writing (or editing). It’s my favorite thing to do, so I do it every day.

 What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

I recommend that aspiring authors should read often and do so critically. Try to dissect why a particular author structured their tale the way they did. When and how did they introduce each character?  How do they give out a specific piece of information? When do they present questions, and where are they answered? Studying how others write will help you be better in your work, even if that means NOT doing something that you didn’t like.

 Which would you say was your best and your worst moments as a writer?

Typing the last line of my Riyria Revelations was my best moment. I knew that was THE BEST ending to a series that I had spent more than a decade conceiving. My worst moments are usually fighting scenes because if I’m lazy, they can be tedious. I have to work hard to make them more than just a series of actions and counters. The fight has to tell its own story, and that can take a lot of effort to get right.

The Books

Michael J. Sullivan books

Your Riyria books (Riyria Revelations, Riyria Chronicles and Legends of the First Empire) take place in a fictional world, Elan. What makes this world special?

Nothing really. What I mean by that is many fantasy authors spend a great deal of time building their world and trying to make it unique or interesting. For me, the world is just the stage, the backdrop, the plate upon which the meal is served. I’m much more interested in the characters and the plots, the trials and the tribulations. Of the three elements, the setting is the least important aspect of the Elan books. Now, that’s not always the case. In Hollow World (my only sci-fi work), the setting is an essential element and is almost a character onto itself.

 Legends of the First Empire occurs 3.000 years in the past to the events of Riyria Revelations, as a result, the characters are different as are the cultures and technology. This series centers in Persephone, a woman who has to save mankind. A way to show how everything began, myth vs reality?

Sort of. In Riyria, I told many lies to the readers about past events, the gods, and various historical figures. Why? Well, because the victors write history, and at certain times people who might seem like heretics will later be regarded as heroes (and vice versa). I knew that there is a vast divide between “what actually happened” and “what we’re told happened.” Legends allowed me to give the reader the truth. As for Persephone, she is definitely “a” main character, and many might suspect she is “the” main character, but the reality is this is an ensemble cast. Many people step into the spotlight, play their parts, and then fade into the background as someone else moves forward. So I don’t think of this as a single person’s story, but rather the tale of many.

 Meanwhile, Riyria Chronicles is a prequel to Revelations. On your website, you say people refer to Chronicles as “prequels done right.” What do you think is the key to this?

Well, I think you’d have to ask them, but if I could repeat some of what I heard, it boils down to a few items. First, the reader learns things about the characters they didn’t already know. Second, they get to see how the bonds of friendship between Royce and Hadrian grew. Another thing mentioned is the new books give them more time with characters they’ve come to think of as their best friends. And most importantly, the writing is as good (or better) than the originals. I believe some prequels have a reputation of being “phoned in,” and I’ve worked hard to make each Chronicle be a story worth telling, and not a way of milking a successful cash cow.

 Regarding your standalone novel, Hollow World, it tells the story of Ellis Rogers, a man with a terminal illness who secretly builds a time machine in his garage. This time you changed fantasy for sci-fi, how did you feel about that? Was it refreshing or maybe challenging?

I’ve actually written all kinds of fiction: fantasy, mystery, thrillers, sci-fi, adventure, coming of age, and literary. I’m known for fantasy because that is what I published first. Hollow World was easy to write for two reasons. First, many concepts had been in my head for over a decade, so the story came out effortlessly. Second, I was able to use modern-day references that make it easy to connect with readers — things like M&Ms, personal virtual assistants on steroids, or the Yosemite Valley. The combination of those two things made it a joy to write, and I think I did so in record time.

  Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions, any last words for your fans worldwide? Maybe about what we can expect from you next? 

Well, first and foremost, I want to thank everyone for reading, reviewing, and telling their loved ones, “Oh, you must read this!” It’s because of them that my books continue to have legs even after more than a decade since the first book was published (The Crown Conspiracy came out in the fall of 2008). As for what comes next, Age of Death releases on February 4th, but thousands of people are already reading it because they backed a Kickstarter project.

The last book in the Legends of the First Empire series (Age of Empyre) will be in retail stores on May 5th, but those who back its Kickstarter (which will launch in January), will receive the ebook in March. As for my next series, I’m two books into a trilogy that I hope to have finished by late spring or early summer. For both Revelations and Legends, I wrote the whole series before releasing the first book (so that I could tweak earlier books when a new idea pops up later on), and I’m doing the same thing with these three books. It’s tentatively titled The Rise and The Fall, and I’m anticipating that the books will release in the summer of 2021, 2022, and 2023. I’m also hoping to drop a 5th Riyria Chronicle (tentatively known as Drumindor) between two of The Rise and Fall books. I’m not sure when. It’ll depend on how long it takes me to write it. And last but not least, I want to say thanks for the interview. I had fun.


It was great to know more about Michael J. Sullivan, if you are curious about Riyria you can find the Riyria reading order here.

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Bulletproof witch wallpaper

Knowing F.J. Blair

Hello Wottareaders! today we are interviewing F.J. Blair, author of Bulletproof Witch a Fantasy Western series. Yes, you heard well! this story has the usual western traits combined with magic and demons, what else you need?

Let’s know more about F..J Blair and his books:

The man

Who is F. James Blair, not the writer, the man. What can you tell us about you?

I suppose the fact that I never intended to write is a good place to start. I’m a CPA (Certified Public Accountant) by trade, and when I’m not busy with that I spend time with my family, or work to keep up my farm (with everything from an orchard to a chicken run), or go out for long, looong runs. In other words, I’ve got a fair bit on my plate as it is. Somehow I manage to balance everything, but it’s not always easy. Of course, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be much fun, either.

You live in Washington with your family. What do you love the most about your Country? Has your Country influenced your stories somehow?

Just to be pedantic, let me specify that I live in Eastern Washington, USA. There are essentially three “Washingtons” that people reference: Washington DC, Seattle, and Eastern Washington. Eastern is as far removed from Seattle as it is from DC. For one thing, most of it is a desert, which people don’t usually realize when they think of the constant rain that plagues Seattle. It’s also much more sparsely populated, with its largest urban center of Spokane only having about 250,000 people. Both of these facts are what attracted my wife and I to live here, since we have more space for our family, and actually can enjoy the warmer months of the year without constantly checking a weather forecast. We do get a lot of snow in the winter, but it’s a minor tradeoff.

The climate also played a major influence in my first book’s setting. Although I envisioned the area Temperance travels through to by more like northern Texas, I drew a lot of inspiration from the wilds and woods that surround our home here. Places where pine trees grow scraggly and separate from each other, where light green lichen clings to rocks, almost bleached dry in the summer air. There are stretches between the Cascade mountains and Spokane where you can stand and see all the way to the horizon, nothing but gray-brown grass stretching out as far as you can see. There’s so much beauty here, but it’s a stark kind of beauty, one that is all the more precious because of its transient nature.

Writers are such for different reasons, which was your thing that made you decide you wanted to become a professional writer?

Mostly, it was because one day I got an itch to tell a story, and the more I ignored it, the worse the feeling got. I fought that first story for almost three years, trying to gnaw away at the meaty surprises it had in store for me. Eventually I finished it, which was such a euphoric feeling that all I wanted was to do it again and again and again. I haven’t been able to stop since.

While that particular piece of writing has been shelved indefinitely, it taught me many valuable lessons, ones that I applied to the next project, the one that eventually became Bulletproof Witch. Hopefully one day I’ll learn enough that I can return to that story and do it justice.

Any non-book related hobbies you want to share with us?

I already mentioned the farming and the running, both of those keep me pretty occupied for what little free time my children allow me. The running is worth expanding on, I suppose. I read a book in college called “Ultramarathon Man”, by Dean Karnazes, and fell in love with the idea of running all day and night nonstop. I ended up running out of my dorm room in Ellensburg, and didn’t stop until I got to Yakima (about 30 miles away). I ended up pulling a calf muscle and had blisters covering the bottoms of both feet, but I’ve never felt more alive.

Since then I’ve done a number of long distance races, including the 100 mile 24 hour race Pine to Palm, which I proudly DNF’d (Did Not Finish), passing out somewhere around the 60 mile mark due to dehydration. It was a blast, and while I’ve had to dial back my miles in recent years, once my children are older I’m looking forward to getting back into the game.

One book, one movie, one song, one food, one sport and one videogame?

Oh man, so many things . . . let me try and break this down.

Book: “All The Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy. It is the tale of an American boy who travels to Mexico and gets a job breaking wild stallions. More than any other book, this story is why I love westerns, although it is neither the usual time period or character typical to the genre. The story spoke to me on a level I’ve never experienced before, darn near broke me by the end of the telling.

Movie: I’d love to name some art house nouveau film with subtlety and meaning behind it, but if we’re being honest . . . “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”. It’s just ridiculous, entertaining, zany fun.

Song: “The Mariner’s Revenge” by the Decemberists. It tells a tale of revenge between two men who, at the start of the song, are trapped with each other inside of a whale. It’s almost an entire novel in itself wrapped up in a five minute song.

Food: Macaroni and Cheese. None of that box stuff, I make mine from scratch using around two pounds worth of five different cheeses, and it is absolutely divine. Sometimes I’ll add a bit of bacon to it for company, but for just the family I like it pure and unadulterated.

Sport: I . . . actually don’t watch any sports. I am into e-sports, particularly League of Legends, although I’ve fallen out of the habit of watching in the last year or two. Another sacrifice on the altar of progress.

Videogame: Subnautica, all the way. You basically play a survivor of a spaceship who crashlands on an ocean planet, and has to piece together everything he needs to survive and escape. I suffer from a rather bad case of Thalassophobia (fear of open water), so playing that game is both therapeutic and terrifying on a level that few other things are.

Your series, Bulletproof Witch, is a western fantasy series, what do you like the most about cowboys?

Aw man, do I only get to pick one thing? There are so many . . . probably the simplicity of their conflicts. In so much of fantasy, fight scenes tend to drag on, especially large battles describing one combat after another. Westerns are much more cut and dry. You might have two people facing off against each other, just staring for endless time calculating their opponent’s movements, but once the action starts it’s over almost before you have a chance to notice. Bullets fly, somebody dies, and that’s it.

The writer

I’d like to know about your first steps, the very first day you decided to become a professional writer, what made you do it?

Am I a professional? I certainly don’t feel like one. Semi-professional, maybe. Minor league, to be sure. What was the question again?

I’ve always been a vivid dreamer, very lucid, realistic dreams. In August of 2015 I had a dream about a man wandering through a forest, carrying a baby in his arms. Even while the dream was going on, I started wondering about what I was seeing. Who was this man? Why did he have this baby? I could tell they were running from something, and the need to know what it was gnawed at me after I awoke. I think a day or two later I pulled out my laptop, created my first Google Doc, and started writing at a madcap pace, working to get all the thoughts that were suddenly exploding inside of my skull out of it as quick as possible.

That’s basically been my problem ever since: if I go too long without writing, the stories inside my head start to build up pressure, and soon it gets to the point where I can’t even function until I write them down in some way.

Do you have any ritual for writing? any kind of habit or goals to achieve every day?

My weekday ritual is rather set in stone, mostly due to the time restraints of my other obligations than anything else. I have exactly one hour every night between when my children go to sleep and my wife and I turn in for the night. I use that time to get down as many words as I can. Even when I’m tired and just want to turn in early, I usually try to at least review pieces of writing, or add to the databases I maintain for my various story worlds.

Weekends are a little better, and sometimes, if all my other work is done and my kids are engaged elsewhere, I can get in almost an entire day of writing. I usually save such special occasions for when I’m nearing the end of a project and just want to push through to the end.

Do you take real people you know and put them in your stories?

I’m pretty sure every author does this, even if it’s only subconsciously. It’s hard not to let what you know influence your ideas. That said, I try to avoid doing anything blatant, usually just borrowing a personality trait or two, and obfuscating the rest.

If there’s anything in real life I draw heavily from my own experience, it’s horses. So many of the little personality quirks that I try and include are drawn from real life animals, or stories that my friends and family share with me. I’ve had a few people come up to me and talk about how much Astor reminds them of their own horse in one way or another. Little details like that are what make all the hard work of storytelling worthwhile.

What are you writing right now?

I just finished the first draft of book three, titled “Arkton At High Noon”, so after I finish cleaning it up and getting it to my beta readers, I’ll be launching straight into book 4, titled “Death Rides at Sunset”. After that I’ll be taking a year off from Bulletproof Witch to work on another SECRET project (not actually that secret, just another story I’ve been itching to get onto paper).

If you had to define yourself just using one sentence of your novels, which one would be?

“Life wasn’t fair, but everyone had to make the best of it, anyway.”

Which would you say was your best and your worst moments as a writer?

My worst moment usually comes around the time I’m hitting the halfway point on writing a book. By then I’m invested enough that I can’t turn back, but I still have so much to write that I can’t see the finish line. I start to spiral into self-loathing and doubt, questioning why I bother putting words on paper at all. At its worst, I’ll start going through other authors books, trying to find that “secret” that makes their writing so much better than my own. I usually break free of this bleak mood after a week or two, but I’m a physical and emotional mess until it passes.

In contrast, the best moment (so far) was when I gave my wife the preview copy of “Curse of the Daemon Beast”, and she saw the dedication to her at the front. My wife is more than just my best friend, she’s also my editor, and a writer with a following of her own. We try to be supportive of each other’s projects, so I really wanted to show her how important it was that she believed enough in my books to give so much of her own time and efforts to them.

The Books

Bulletproof Witch is a Fantasy Western, or a Weird Western, what do you think is the most appealing trait of this series?

Do you mean the most appealing trait to me, or what I think it might be to my readers? Because in speaking to the first few people who gave my book a chance, it became apparent rather quick that everyone was taking something different away from the story. Some liked it for the action, some for the magic system, and more than a few refer to it as “the talking horse story”.

Personally, I think the story’s most appealing trait is the evolution of its main character, which admittedly is just getting started. In the beginning, Temperance sort of sees the world in black and white. Her grandfather is this holier-than-thou figure who represents everything she wants to be, and she blames the rest of the country for his death as much as she does the daemon that killed him. Even in the first book, though, you start to see some cracks in this assumption. Peter shows her a side of the Federation she never really experienced before, and there are a few hints that her grandfather may not have been this perfect saint after all. I’m really looking forward to where this journey is going to take her.

This series’ main character, Temperance Whiteoak, is the granddaughter of a famous pistol warlock. Does Temperance shoot first and ask questions later?

It sort of seems that way at first, since the story jumps in when Temperance is already a somewhat experienced gunfighter. Each book shines a bit more light on both her past and the code of ethics that guides her, such as in the second book where she talks about how a Pistol Warlock is meant to save people, not to kill them.

Also, while Temperance has a creed that she adheres to, it doesn’t always lead her to make the right decisions. Everything she does is through the lens of her experiences so far, and as she evolves with each book, there are going to be more than a few beliefs that get challenged, or thrown out entirely. So I guess to answer your question- it depends if she has any questions worth asking, or if she just wants to make sure she stays on the right side of the dirt.

Your books include illustrations by artist Jin A. Lee, How did you come up with such fascinating idea of adding illustrations?

When I was younger, I loved reading a Japanese book series called “Vampire Hunter D”, about a half-human, half-vampire traveling through a post-apocalyptic world. These were the books that established a genre in Japan known as “light novels”, chapter books aimed at younger audiences that included artwork. The art in D though was beyond anything being done in the West at the time, and those drawing captivated me as much as the stories they accompanied. When I first started envisioning what I wanted the Bulletproof Witch novels to look like, I kept coming back to this light novel format.

F.J Blair shared with us some of the amazing illustrations included in his books:

The second book in the series, Curse of the Daemon Beast, was released quite recently (in May,2019), in this Temperance Whiteoak will have to track down Belial, a demon hiding in a remote mountain town, Shady Hollow. Sounds really interesting, in this second installment Temperance is playing more the role of a detective while at the same time

There’s definitely a detective aspect to the story, but it’s a very minor one. Temperance isn’t really solving a mystery so much as following a trail the daemon leaves behind. The whole thing is still pretty action heavy, but with the focus on only a single opponent, the story had to adapt with it.

Lots of Amazon reviews praise your series, congratulations! Here’s an interesting excerpt of one of the reviews I liked the most:

This was an excellently fun Western-style fantasy. My first note after beginning the book was “Wild, wild west with daemon-hunting witch and talking horse, love it already”. And I continued loving it throughout.

Would you say this is a good description of Bulletproof Witch?

Yep! Definitely one of my favorites. Although Wild, Wild West had a fair bit more technology than my story (at least for the moment. Buhahaha . . . .)

Bulletproof Witch is short for the Fantasy word count standards. By breaking this “rule” you made the story being more fast-paced and straight to the point, which somehow portraits better the setting of a western.

I never really set out do anything different with this story. When I started, I wrote the first book the exact length it felt like the story needed to be. I’m glad that it worked with the feel of this particular story, but I’m not opposed to having something lengthier or more involved in the later books. Case in point, book two is about twice the length of book one, and the third book will be as long as the first two combined.

Hopefully a longer book won’t lose the earlier story’s fast-paced action or western feel. I’m pretty confident though that they’ll be just as enjoyable as the first one.

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